If you are a manager, should you be friends on Facebook with your team? This is a question I asked, appropriately enough, on Facebook recently. The answer? It depends.
The jury is out on whether it’s a good idea or not, but there are some areas of agreement. Let’s start with the pros and cons:
- Makes the manager seem more ‘human’ and fosters a more personal relationship.
- Helps the manager learn more about their employees – what’s going on in their lives, what makes them tick, the skills they have.
- Opens a new channel of communication which is less formal.
- Helps keep in touch with alumni who leave the business.
- It’s entertaining.
- The employee may feel their manager is stalking them – some things are private.
- The manager may learn something they’d rather not know about a team mate.
- The manager may be opening themselves to some form of discrimination charge if they find certain information.
- Some managers feel being friends impairs their ability to manage effectively.
- The manager might share something inappropriate about themselves.
In terms of rules of the road and advice:
- It’s not ok for the manager to initiate the Friend Request – this might put people in an uncomfortable position of having to accept.
- It is ok for the employee to initiate the request – which the manager can then choose to accept or not.
- The manager should either accept all Requests or none, otherwise it smacks of favoritism.
- Managers should consider using Google+ or LinkedIn for professional social relationships – it’s ok to initiate those.
- Employees who have been Friended can make judicious use of the Permissions, Filters and Lists features of Facebook.
- You probably shouldn’t unfriend your boss.
- Review your company’s social media policy – there may be some guidelines in there to cover the situation.